VIDEO: Straight-line winds, gustnado cause damage


HEATH TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — As a line of storms powered through West Michigan Thursday afternoon, a semi-truck trailer in the Hamilton area was picked up and thrown over. The culprit behind that and other damage was not only straight line winds, but also a gustnado.

Video provided to 24 Hour News 8 by a witness shows the gustnado swirling and then quickly dissipating in the Hamilton area.

“At first I thought it was just rain coming down, but then when I saw it was spinning that it was more than just rain,” another witness, Elizabeth Smith, said.


Gustnadoes look like tornadoes but are completely different. They are short-lived and surfaced-based, lasting a matter of seconds.

Gustnadoes are actually more closely related to straight-line winds than tornadoes. Straight-line winds happen when strong thunderstorms produce powerful pushes of air down to the surface.Occasionally, when that strong surge of air encounters a bit of circulation and instability, it can spin up rotation. From the ground, this vortex can look a lot like a tornado, but unlike tornadoes, gustnadoes aren’t attached to the stormcloud in the sky.

Tornadoes can grow to be much more powerful than gustnadoes, too, since they are rooted near the core of a storm. Tornadoes always form from the cloud first, and always stay attached to the base of a storm.


Employees at Al’s Excavating located in the 4500 block of 134th Avenue, east of M-40, near Hamilton told 24 Hour News 8 that a semi-trailer was lifted off the ground, knocking over a light pole and landing on its side several feet away.

Strong winds also tossed a large metal trash bin through the air before it landed about 10 or 15 feet away.

An employee who was working in the yard at the time moved through took shelter in a trailer.

“I heard it coming over … just a big old gust,” the worker, Kyle, said. “It blew my door open. I closed the door. Came out, saw the trailer was on its side and the trash was over here.”

There are no reports of injuries or major property damage in the Hamilton area.

Strong storms moved through West Michigan on Thursday causing some damage, including ripping the roof off the Standard Supply & Lumber Company in Grand Rapids.

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